Source: Daily Breeze
Cal State Dominguez Hills kicked off two days of commencement ceremonies on Friday morning, May 19 — with an alum-turned-political leader serving as the keynote speaker.
Long Beach Mayor Rex Richardson, who was elected to that post in November, addressed the colleges of Arts and Humanities, and Education on Friday, empowering the class of 2023 to work to change their communities for the better.
The ceremony at which Richardson spoke was the first of six, with three taking place Friday and the final three set for Saturday. State Attorney General Rob Bonta is slated to address CSUDH’s College of Business Administration and Public Policy during its commencement ceremony, scheduled for 1:30 p.m. Saturday.
In all, the class of 2023 comprises more than 3,300 students, with more than 40,000 guests expected to attend the ceremonies at Dignity Sports Health Park’s tennis stadium, in Carson.
“Because of the leadership development legacy right here at Cal State Dominguez Hills, we have an opportunity to reimagine and renegotiate the covenant with our communities throughout our region,” Richardson said in his address, “to shape a future where our families and our youth can reach their full potential. You’re all a part of that legacy now.”
The mayor originally enrolled for classes at CSUDH as an 18-year-old in 2001. He was elected president of Associated Students, Inc. during his time there. But left the university a few years later, several credits shy of completing his degree, after he accepted a full-time job as a community organizer with a local labor union.
Years later — after rising up the city government ranks and winning a seat on the Long Beach City Council — Richardson returned to CSUDH and finished out his degree, earning a bachelor’s of art in philosophy in 2020.
Richardson represented Long Beach’s Ninth District for two terms before getting elected as mayor in November. He also served two terms as vice mayor — a total of four years — under his mayoral predecessor, current U.S. Rep. Robert Garcia.
Richardson has often talked about the leadership skills he developed at CSUDH.
“We’re proud of what the class of 2023 has accomplished and overcome — we all witnessed as you overcame incredible challenges,” Richardson said, referencing the coronavirus pandemic and the aftermath of George Floyd’s murder in 2020. “You confronted your generation-defining struggles.”
“By diving into uncertainty, you found grit and a spirit of determination to make a difference,” he added. “Despite your plight, you overcame — you understood the assignment.
Now, Richardson said, it’s time to celebrate. And after that, the mayor said, the graduates should make a difference in the world.
“Class of 2023, I want to empower you to go forth into the world and seek the opportunities in uncertainty,” Richardson said. “Know who you’re meant to be, stand up for what you believe, chart your own path and most importantly — make a difference in the lives of the next generation.”